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‘The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes’ Review: The Rare Tabloid Exposé That Sets the Record Straight

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Owen Gleiberman Chief Film CriticThe word “tabloid” has a sleazy mystique. It’s such a potent word that it can influence the way you think about the subjects that fall into that category. “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe: The Unheard Tapes” is a documentary that dives into what we think of as the most tawdry and sensational aspects of the Marilyn Monroe story: her death, on August 4, 1962, from an overdose of barbiturates; the hideous downward spiral of depression and narcotics that led up to it; and, buried deep in the weeds of all of that, the most scandalous piece of gossip ever connected to Marilyn Monroe — her clandestine affairs with John F.

Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.This is dark, squalid, squinting-through-the-keyhole stuff, and it can make a film like “The Mystery of Marilyn Monroe” sound like a guilty-pleasure piece of true-crime trash, one of those glorified tabloid-TV exposés with a patina of investigative credibility.

In fact, it’s a very good film. What’s more, there’s no reason, at this point, to go on pretending that what happened to Marilyn Monroe is some “sordid” pulp saga we have to peek at through our fingers from on high.

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